Last Wednesday, I shared on how the Bible describes Faith as a shield and how that works. If you’d rather hear this message than read it, you can download the podcast here. This blog is a slightly more developed version. (Be sure to check out the other messages here. Super great stuff!)
In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Ephesians 6:19
One thing that I never noticed before was the concept of flaming arrows. Arrows are meant to penetrate and pierce, but flaming arrows have an additional purpose: to set things on fire.
I’m sure we’ve all seen movies where the archer sets an arrow on fire and shoots it to burn something else. When you think about it, with the threat of burning hands and blocked vision, it’s actually impressive that they can aim those things.
Flaming arrows are meant to start a fire and the damage cause by the arrow’s impact is nothing compared to the destruction that the fire brings. And the devil uses the same tactic against us.
What are the “flaming arrows of the evil one?” Here are the ones I’ve learned about and encountered:
These lies, like flaming arrows, do damage when they hit. But the greater damage is caused when the fires begin to spread. Here are some examples:
- If we give in to Temptation, no matter how small – taking something that isn’t ours, looking at a pornographic website, or gossiping about someone – the desire doesn’t go away, does it? No, it comes back stronger – more stealing, more extreme porn, juicier gossip. And it’s harder to resist after giving in once.
- Deception is either a complete or partial amendment of God’s truth: adultery is inevitable in men, you have to sleep with someone to prove you love them, life is happier when you have more money, etc. When you believe one lie, it opens the door for worse choices and behaviors, which makes you want to believe another lie.
- When the devil brings Accusation against your relationships – your parents never understand you, your spouse doesn’t love you that well, God never listens to your prayers – be careful not to believe that lie. If we do, our perceptions will magnify the smallest behavior and use it as confirmation. (“I knew it!”) Eventually, we see betrayal everywhere and do not believe real, loving relationships are even possible.
- If you feel beaten down by Condemnation – you think you’re never gonna change, that no one will ever forgive what you’ve done, or that this part of you is irredeemable – that simple lie will keep you from enjoying the freedom and love the Gospel brings. You’ll always think, “If you only knew who I really am, you would reject me.”
See? These lies are flaming arrows. They strike and spread damage. Left unchecked they ravage our desires, beliefs, relationships, and faith.
That’s why the Shield of Faith is important. For all of these different darts, you only need one shield – Faith – complete belief and trust in God, particularly in the love demonstrated by Him when Jesus died on the Cross for our sins and rose again. It’s a constant battle in the mind.
When a lie enters, immediately disagree with it and instead agree with the truth that you know about God from His Word. You don’t need to believe every thought that enters your head, as the quote on the right states.
Here’s how that works:
- Temptation: I reject the notion that that sin will satisfy me, because I know that it will only make me more empty. God, on the other hand, has given me access to all kinds of satisfaction and pleasure through Jesus. (Psalm 103:5, Psalm 16:11)
- Deception: This lie is only an attempt to justify sinfulness. But God’s word is true, even if it doesn’t seem that way now. It will prove to be true in time. (Proverbs 30:5)
- Accusation: I refuse to believe the worst about my relationships. There may be areas for improvement, but they are beyond hopeless. I will have great friendships and God, the ultimate friend, will never abandon me. (Proverbs 18:24, Numbers 23:19)
- Condemnation: I am not hopeless! I was before, but Jesus has taken away all my sins and replaced them with His perfection. I get better and better everyday. (Romans 8:1)
Here’s the interesting thing. Whether you give in to the devil’s lies or you fight against them, you’re gonna need faith. It takes faith to believe God’s word, but it also takes faith (albeit a negative and sinful kind) to believe the temptation, deception, accusation, and condemnation. You’re either saying, “I believe these lies and choose to live by them,” or “I believe God’s truth and choose to live by it.”
In short, it’s less a question of how strong your faith is and more a question of WHO your faith is based on. And your faith in God gets stronger and stronger the more you get to know Him. Reading your Bible is one way to do this, but don’t be intimidated by the verses. Let this by like a starter deck of cards for you and collect more as you read the Bible. It’s the connection to God that gives it power.
At the end of the day, faith is simply getting to know God better and better, trusting him more and more, and choosing to believe Him. Everyday that you consciously choose Him, that shield is activated all around you.